Social media cheating is a thing because it’s accessible and easy to engage with attractive members of the opposite sex. Facebook in particular is a top relationship killer and a main source of jealousy and insecurity. It can destroy trust as there are so many ways you can veer offside if you don’t Facebook-with-care.
Some couples even exchange account passwords (or delete their accounts altogether) to avoid the stress that Facebook can bring to their union. That’s because when you are in a relationship you’re no longer just Facebooking for yourself, you’re Facebooking for two people. Everything you do online affects your partner and serves as an extension of him or her — and your relationship. Bottom line: social media doesn’t make monogamy any easier.
So what type of behavior is inappropriate for your boyfriend to engage in online? Here is relationship advice on the signs he may be cheating via social media:
He is direct messaging a girl(s) on Facebook.
There’s a big difference between the occasional message to check-in or catch up with a strictly-platonic female friend — someone whom you know and trust is nothing more – versus an ongoing message thread with someone you’ve never met or seen with your boyfriend. But what’s more important than the messaging itself is whether he’s open or secretive about it. If his phone behavior suddenly changes — he used to be open and transparent with his messages but is now taking his phone whenever he leaves the room, or keeps his phone close by at all times — you should be worried. It’s also not a good sign if he is extra cautious online, rarely goes online when you’re around, or quickly deletes his browser whenever you enter the room.
He befriends attractive girls on Facebook.
So you’re scrolling the Facebook newsfeed and see that your boyfriend and so-and-so just became friends. You click her picture and it’s a very attractive girl you’ve never met. Should you be worried? Well, I can definitely assure you that he’s not friending her on Facebook so he can see her amazing travel albums. But what if she added him? Nah. You should still be skeptical because of what he didn’t tell her or what message he relayed when they met in real life that would make her think it was appropriate for her to friend him on Facebook.
Obviously there are exceptions: they’re coworkers or you know they’re just friends. Also, remember that it’s outside his control who send him a friend request on Facebook, but if he’s taking the initiative to build an online relationship he may not be satisfied with your relationship.
He likes/comments on other girls’ pictures/statuses.
Cause for concern depends on what he says, if he comments, and what the picture that he “likes” consists of. Say he “likes” some girl’s selfie cleavage shot — yeah, that’s not cool. Say it’s a girl posting a cute family photo with her 95-year-old grandparents — of course that’s cool. Or say it’s some girl who’s a mutual friend and posts a photo with her squad heading to the club in short mini skirts, and he comments, “Looking hot ladies!” Ummm…yeah, his comment is probably unnecessary, particularly considering it’s a mutual friend. And nobody wants to be with the overly-flirty boyfriend that needs to be kept in a cage with a cock clamp on in order to stay faithful.
But what if he just “likes” the photo? A photo “like” can be mindless, we “like” things all the time without thinking. So it’s up to you if you are comfortable with it, as some people are more jealous than others and have different boundaries and expectations.
He follows hot girls on Instagram.
Following attractive people on Instagram is like taking a smoke break from your relationship. It helps men in long-term relationships keep their sanity. Of course, if his Instagram feed seems like it’s for him to jerk off to and fulfill fantasies he’s keeping from you, that’s deceitful. Or if he emphatically expresses his lack of interest in girls with fake boobs, but you notice he’s following several Instagram accounts solely dedicated to posting pictures of girls with fake boobs, then you’re free to question his integrity. But following the occasional model or attractive female celebrity does not mean he doesn’t love you or isn’t attracted to you. No matter how great your relationship is he is not going to stop being attracted to other women. And if the worst thing he does to act on that is follow the occasional hottie on Instagram, that works out in your favor.
In the end, social media cheating can become a slippery slope — one creep here, one creep there, then suddenly it’s a regular thing. This is propelled by accessibility and affordability; it’s right there in front of you, one-click-away, at any time, and there is no direct consequence. However, over time these habits chip away at a relationship as their is a root cause of why your guy is compelled to do it in the first place. He may use social media as an outlet to vent his relationship dissatisfaction, and that’s the real cause for concern.
Jamie Rea is a Canadian entrepreneur, relationship writer, and comedy writer who loves to combine humor with advice on various topics in dating and relationships. He is a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic with a dirty mind, so it’s not surprising his dream girl has a big sense of humor and an even bigger heart. He currently writes about relationships for multiple publications across Canada and the US, including Made Man, Elite Daily, and Mode Media.